At the ripe age of 40-years-young, Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic (31-11-2) showed us why he is still one of the most dangerous men on the planet just moments ago at UFC Fight Night 64. Cro Cop earned the 22nd KO/TKO finish of his storied career in Poland today in a rematch for the ages against Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga (16-10).
Their first fight delivered us one of the most memorable KO’s in UFC history. Cro Cop has always been known for his left high kick. His quote “Right leg hospital, left leg cemetery,” is one of the most horrifically accurate of all-time. That’s why the MMA world would be sent into collective shock when Gonzaga KO’d Cro Cop at UFC 70 with a left high kick of his own. Nearly 8 years to the very date later, Cro Cop would get his chance to avenge this historic defeat.
With a record of 5-0 in rematches, Cro Cop played very much the part of the underdog against Gonzaga in the early rounds. Cro Cop was in full retreat mode as Gonzaga controlled the center of the cage. Anytime the Croatian would lift that tree trunk of a leg up, Gonzaga would take him down and enforce his brutal brand of ground and pound, leaving Cro Cop blooded and looking like the beaten man just two rounds into their five round main event contest.
Heading into the third round it was all Gonzaga. He’d look to get the fight right back to the ground again but Cro Cop wasn’t having it. Then all of a sudden, the beast inside of Cro Cop awoke. Cro Cop threw a short left elbow that wobbled Gonzaga. Maybe he just got too comfortable in there with the legend looking to get him back on the ground to take another round. Maybe Cro Cop had other ideas.
It was almost like he was playing possum. In hindsight, maybe he was just biding his time. Because after that elbow, it became obvious that this was the beginning of the end. Gonzaga immediately went into scramble and survive mode. At first, it appeared to be a stubborn decision for Cro Cop to follow Gonzaga to the ground. That wouldn’t be the case. Cro Cop had every intention of finishing off his opponent before the beginning of the fourth round. He knew he was done.
Cro Cop finished off Gonzaga with some brutal elbows, opening up a red river over his right eye. He’d continue with hammerfists until referee Leon Roberts, giving Gonzaga more than enough to recover, finally stepped in to wave off the contest.
Mirko Cro Cop is an example of one of the handful of remaining legends from the PRIDE era that appeared to be done but continues to soldier on. With 20 years and well over one hundred fights on his combat sports resume, professional and amateur, you can go ahead and chalk one more up on the big board for “The Wild Boy,” a man who appears to have plenty more left in the tank.
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